Several Oregon counties have referenda on the ballot to re-enforce protections for Second Amendment rights. The movement to re-enforce the Second Amendment protections started in 2013, in Wallowa County. Similar referenda have passed in four counties, Coos, Curry, Wallowa, and Wheeler.
Wheeler and Coos county passed their ordinances in 2015, Curry county passed a similar ordinance in 2016.
In 2018 ten counties have Second Amendment protection referenda on the ballot.
These are: Baker County (measure 1-84), Columbia County (measure 5-270), Douglas county (measure 10-165), Jackson county (measure 15-181), Klamath County (measure 18-110), Lake County (measure 1-84), Lincoln County (measure 21-189), Linn County (measure 11-174), Umatilla County (measure 20-128), and Union County (measure 31-96).
The passed and proposed referenda may be read at the cooscountywatcher.com.
The measures are similar. They assert the primacy of the U.S. and Oregon constitutional protections of the right to keep and bear arms and the Ninth, Tenth, and Fourteenth amendments to the U.S. Constitution. There are several variations.
The Oregon Constitutional protection is in Article 1, Section 27 of the Oregon Constitution.
Section 27. Right to bear arms; military subordinate to civil power. The people shall have the right to bear arms for the defence [sic] of themselves, and the State, but the Military shall be kept in strict subordination to the civil power[.]
The proposed and passed referenda specify protections to limit the power of the government in several ways, and to prevent the County governments from cooperating with state or federal authorities in violation of the referenda, or spending funds to enforce policies that violate the referenda. Here is a summary of measure 31-96 from Union County:
- Approval of this measure would mandate that in Union County, the Oregon and United States Constitutional definitions of firearms be interpreted as including ammunition and firearms accessories.
- Approval of this measure would make unconstitutional in Union County any law or regulation that restricts a person from possessing firearms, ammunition, and firearms accessories.
- Approval of this measure would require the Union County Sheriff to review federal, state, and local laws affecting firearms, firearms accessories, and/or ammunition and determine whether they violate the United States and Oregon Constitutions as defined by this measure.
- Approval of this measure would prohibit Union County Government from enforcing any law that restricts the right of people to possess firearms, firearms accessories, and/or ammunition.
- And approval of this measure would subject people or corporations who violate this measure to a fine of up to $2,000 for an individual and $4,000 for a corporation.
Counties are created by, and are creatures of state governments. These referenda could be overridden by the state legislature. They serve notice, however, of the willingness of the counties to fight such legislation in the courts. They serve as a way for rural voters to give legislators notice of their willingness to protect Second Amendment rights.
The desire to restrict Second Amendment rights is tepid, fueled by media spin. Support for the Second Amendment is deep seated in culture, tradition, and life experience.
The referenda may give state legislatures pause in passing restrictive legislation.
The Oregon pre-emption law currently prevents local governments from passing laws that are more restrictive than state law, not referenda protecting Second Amendment rights.
Similar activism is ongoing in Illinois counties.